As much as I’d like to pretend I’m closer to 20 than 30, I have to admit that at my next birthday I’ll absolutely be in my late 20s. And while I definitely still have my share of “what am I doing with my life?” moments, being in the latter portion of my 20s has taught me that there are some crappy but absolutely necessary things that happen in this decade of your life. They include:
- Having absolutely no money: Speaking from personal experience here, having no money makes you a little scrappier than when you’re making a great salary. It forces you to focus on exactly where your priorities lie, since there’s really no room for extras. Also, my parents would argue that it builds character. I don’t know about that. But it definitely gets you to build up the stamina to fight with Time Warner to get a better cable/Internet package, since you don’t have an extra 90 bucks to blow on your monthly bill.
- Dealing with a breakup: In this decade of your life, you’ll probably love someone and (unfortunately) at some point that relationship won’t work out. It may be your long-time college love or someone you date for six months. Either way, it’s going to suck. It will make you feel physically ill. You will imagine yourself being the drunken aunt to your friends’ kids as you adopt 12 dogs and learn how to make your own wine. In reality, what you’ll actually do is make it through to the other side. It’ll take some time, but it’ll happen. And as you do it, you’ll rediscover your core self. What do you care about? What do you need out of a relationship? How do you want to spend your free time? If no one else was there to help you, could you take care of the situation unfolding in front of you? The answer is always “yes.”
- Coping with the end of a friendship: I’ve written about this topic a lot, because it’s something that impacts nearly every person by the time they hit 30. It sucks. You’ll be bitter/confused/sad/probably all of the above. Then eventually you’ll move on and find someone who values your friendship as much as you do and all will be right with the world again.
- Feeling completely overwhelmed by a new city: I firmly believe that everyone should move to a new city at least once in their life. It will be hands down the most overwhelming thing you’ve ever done. It will also be the thing that makes you feel most badass and invigorated. You will have no idea where Target is. You may not even know another person in the city. But eventually you’ll figure things out, look at your new life, and be like, “Did I do that?” (Steve Urkel voice). From that point on, very little will scare you.
- Being incredibly aggravated by your job: There are few things more dangerous than feeling “meh” about your job. “Meh” gets you stuck for years until one day you wake up and you’re 40 and you’re not really sure what you’ve accomplished. It sucks to hate your job. It sucks to dread hearing your alarm go off every day. But this kind of anger and frustration also pushes you to make a necessary change. Instead of being stuck in mediocrity for the next decade, you’re going to get active about your career and finding something you love to do.
It would be way easier if life was all rainbows and ponies and Ryan Gosling memes all the time, but these crappy things (I’ve experienced all of them) help to push you toward a sharper, funnier, more inspired version of yourself. There’s plenty of time for rainbows and ponies ahead, but as that quote everyone used in their yearbook senior year says, “If you want the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain.”